With Casey Prather out at least a week with a high ankle sprain, Florida once again needs another player to step up.
When Prather went out late in the first half against LSU with an ankle injury, Florida coach Billy Donovan turned to freshman guard Dillon Graham as the eighth player in his eight-player rotation. Graham was 0-for-2 from the floor, but did have one rebound in six minutes off the bench. More importantly, Graham had no turnovers.
“The one thing I respect about Dillon is his ability to pass the ball,” Donovan said. “For him, against a team like LSU at home that was creating about 12 steals a game, forcing 19 turnovers, with (Mike) Rosario being out, in that game, in terms of the handling and passing standpoint, we needed some of that.”
Rosario is expected to return for Thursday night’s game at Texas A&M. Donovan hasn’t penciled in Graham as the eighth man in the rotation with Prather out.
“It could be totally different against A&M,” Donovan said. “It’s not necessarily him. It could be Braxton (Ogbueze). It could be DeVon Walker. It depends as we get deeper into (scouting) A&M to figure those things out.”
Of Florida’s 2012 freshman class, guard Michael Frazier II has been the most impressive. Frazier is shooting 42.9 percent (18-42) from 3-point range and at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds has proven physical enough to mix it up inside against high-level competition. Against LSU, Frazier finished with 5 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists in a career-high 31 minutes off the bench.
Ogbueze and Walker have played more sparingly. Neither freshman appeared in Saturday’s game at LSU. But Florida junior center Patric Young said that the work ethic of all of UF’s freshman have remained strong in practice.
“Guys in my class have been in their ear a lot, telling them be ready because you’re opportunity is right around the corner,” Young said. “Guys are getting hurt, you just got to be ready. Just don’t get discouraged. We all went through the time where we weren’t playing as much our freshman and year and just be ready. Your time’s coming.”
Joe Lunardi has Florida as a No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region his latest ESPN Bracketology, facing Harvard. Lunardi has Miami as a six seed in the opposite bracket, setting up a potential Florida-Miami showdown.